Saturday, January 30, 2016

Stuffed Vegetarian Peppers with Baharat

I ended up making this recipe because we had a huge container of leftover rice to use up.  Although it didn't manage to completely take care of our oversupply of cooked rice, it did make a substantial dent -- and it's delicious too!  I am a big fan of stuffed peppers in general (see, for example, this pork version and this pesto-potato version).  This Middle Eastern stuffed pepper is both vegetarian (vegan if you skip the cheese) and gluten free, but definitely not short on flavor.  It's spiced up with baharat spices from Raw Spice Bar, although you could use another Middle Eastern spice blend or make your own.  In addition to the spices, the rice mixture is flavored with currants for sweetness, almonds for a nutty crunch, and canned tomatoes to keep everything nice and moist.  Then the rice is piled into roasted peppers, baked a little longer, and finally blanketed under a flurry of Parmesan cheese. 

Stuffed Vegetarian Peppers with Baharat (adapted from The Guardian and Minimalist Baker)
Makes 8 stuffed peppers

4 bell peppers, halved, seeds removed
Spray oil
Olive oil
1 large red onion, minced
1/4 cup slivered almonds
15-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained well
200 g cooked rice
2 T currants
2 T minced fresh parsley
1 large scallion, trimmed and minced
1-1/2 tsp baharat spice blend
Freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan or other cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a baking dish with oil, and spray the peppers with oil.  Arrange in a single layer, sprinkle with salt, and roast about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat a good drizzle of olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, and saute for 10-15 minutes, until nicely softened.  Add the almonds, and saute for another few minutes.  Add the tomatoes, rice, currants, parsley, scallion, and spice blend.  Season with salt and pepper. Stir well to combine and heat through.
3. Carefully divide the rice mixture among the pepper halves.  Cover with foil, and bake 25 minutes.
4. Remove the foil, and increase oven heat to 400 degrees.  Sprinkle the peppers with Parmesan cheese (or any other cheese you like -- crumbled feta would be great too!).  Return to the oven for 15 minutes.
5. Let cool a few minutes before serving.

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